In any service business, the people you hire and work with are the be-all-end-all of your success. Marketing and creativity can only take you so far: if you have lackadaisical employees or contractors, your customers will not stick around for long.
Explosive growth comes from providing excellent service. In the age of internet marketing and social media, it’s easy to forget that word-of-mouth is still possibly the single most-effective method of bringing in new customers.
Additionally, reputation is everything. If you have people out there doing shoddy – or even just “okay” – work, you will end up with dissatisfied customers and negative reviews. While it’s always good to be overstaffed (emergencies happen), you want to be giving 90% of the jobs to your highest performers.
Pick your workers very, very carefully.
Especially in the cleaning industry – sending strangers into a customers personal space to do work – it is critical to have professional cleaners that you can trust, and who take pride in their work for it’s own sake.
Here are our top things to look for in a cleaning professional:
A Professional Attitude (duh)
Any rudeness or carelessness during the hiring process should be an instant disqualifier. Overly emotional or unprofessional correspondence should be a massive red flag.
If a candidate is getting visibly frustrated, demanding, or angry, you should immediately stop the on-boarding process. This will 100% carry into how they behave with customers, and how they treat your administrative staff.
It’s not difficult to maintain a professional demeanor for a couple weeks. If they cannot do this, do not consider working with them.
On the other hand, if this is happening frequently, you may need to look at yourself and your process and see if you are treating your candidates poorly and causing this behavior.
Food for thought…
Fast response times and attention to detail
After doing an analysis of our best cleaners – by going back and looking at their application, their interviews, and their emails – we noticed that basically 100% of them responded quickly and carefully to inquiries.
In your written application, you should be looking at their answers to see if they were paying attention to the question.
Include screening techniques like a line that states
“applications listing family or friends as professional references will be disqualified”
to see who is paying attention.
This will tell you who can follow instructions, and who will just rush through things.
Many times, we will get applications listing family members as a reference, even though the applicant actually does have non-family references. They just didn’t read the question carefully.
Just like poor interpersonal skills, carelessness will bleed into their work once you’ve hired them.
On the other hand, applicants who filled out our application carefully, and responded quickly when we attempted to set up an interview, turned out to be our best cleaners.
High effort and enthusiasm
While this is not always the marker of a good housekeeper, it is certainly a positive sign. Enthusiasm is not the same as pushiness. There is a grey area where calling to check up on an application can be a sign of desperation more than persistence. But, for the most part, following up or checking in on the status of their application is a good sign.
Some people hurl a million applications into the ether to find a job, and we certainly pass no judgement on that. You do what you have to. However, you want to screen for people who are specifically looking for what your company is offering.
We are searching specifically for applicants looking for housekeeping work, and seeking new clients with passion and diligence. You don’t want people who just need any job just to get by, you want people who are good at what they do, and specifically want to make it in your industry.
Someone who is looking for any job they can find will do the bare minimum to not get fired, while someone who intends to build a great reputation in their professional field will do outstanding work.
Cleaning houses isn’t easy. If part of your business model is teaching people new to the industry how to clean, then you may be able to get away with hiring cleaners with little-to-no experience.
However, we only consider applicants who have at least 3 years of professional residential cleaning experience. Hotel maid service is a very close second, a lot of those people have excellent attention to detail and high standards.
You need to do your due diligence and make sure your applicants have accurate employment or self-employment history. This means speaking with a bare minimum of 2 previous employers, or clients. Google the company they worked for previously, ask careful questions when you call their clients, do your research.
It’s easy to put anything you want on an application. You need to get a sense for how well they really know their industry by contacting real human beings that can vouch for them.
Check to see if they know their stuff. Ask questions that a housekeeper would know the answer to (“what products are acceptable to use on a hardwood floor”).
This one is a little tricky, because there are many excellent housekeepers who do not speak very good English.
However, even if they do 10/10 work, you will have a disaster on your hands if you are constantly having miscommunications due to a language barrier.
Unless you are fluent in other languages or have a translator on staff, make sure that your applicants can speak English. It will prevent a lot of headaches down the road.
However, communication goes well beyond this. You want to look for people who keep you in the loop when something goes wrong. It is much better to have a new employee who “asks too many annoying questions” than one who just wings it and hopes they haven’t made a mistake.
Encourage your applicants to interrupt you with clarifying questions during your interview process. The better you explain your policies, pay rate, scheduling, and systems, the lower the risk of upsetting customers with avoidable mistakes early on in your business relationship with the new cleaner.
Shyness can cause a lot of problems. Look for applicants who are not afraid to speak up if they don’t understand something.
Lastly, communication is a two-way street. It won’t matter how attentive and inquisitive your applicant is if you aren’t teaching them what your expectations are, or if you’re leaving out important details about how your company works.
There are many, many more traits to look for in a professional cleaner. However, we believe these to be the most critical points to screen for in your hiring process.
Happy hunting! And put your people first.